It’s a lovely rainy night at Jasperwood. Yes: Rain. The picture above is not an actual photograph of current conditions. Good thing too, since the snow seems to have driven the poor woman mad. Either that or she is terrified beyond description, wondering what greater tortures await from this strange, lanky man who is pressing the cold snow into her face. Or she’s a severed head he likes to take out from time to time. She came by with some fancy-man in a big yellow car. Drove by the farm, blew a tire. He moseyed over to help, but once he got a look at her he knew what to do. Took care of the man with the tire iron and brought her inside for games an’ I don’t mean Monopoly no sir.

There’s hardly a single ad from the mid 50s that doesn’t look creepy eventually.

Gnat woke me this morning with the news that she had strep throat. She didn’t, but she had that hoarse cough that sounds bad. Then again, kids are good at faking the severity of a cough, if it means they can buy a day on the sofa reading comic books. Still, she seemed rather inert, so I called the school and said she’d be out. To gauge her seriousness, I said there’d be no TV – if you’re sick, take a nap. Such a rule is bent eventually, but if the kid says “okay” and slumps off to the sofa with a blanket and a book, then they’re probably not faking it. An hour later she asked if she could use her computer to make a wish-list; sure. An hour after that she was in her room, listening to music, and I wandered by. She was jumping on her bed. Jig state  = up.

Feeling better?

Uh – well . . . and she tried to cough.

Okay, you’re going to school.

She didn’t complain. I checked her temp; everything was normal. Made her lunch, or rather remade it; the sandwich I assembled the previous night would serve. Or so I thought until I picked it up. It was a half sandwich, and somehow the very act of slicing the bread caused it to pucker and harden. Echh. I chose the spongiest white bread on the market, since it is the right of all children to eat bread so blindingly white it makes doves confess their sins on the spot. The white bread of my youth came in two varieties – Wonder, which was verboten and hence highly desired, and SuperValu Split-top white bread, which had its crown sundered and ladled with farm-fresh butter during the baking process. (Or before. Or after. Didn’t matter. Keyword: pre-buttered.) Wonder was bad because it was full of preservatives, I guess. My mother wasn’t one of those scolds who only puts fresh bean curd and wheat juice down her children’s innocent gullets, but something about the unnatural pliability of Wonder raised her suspicions. Naturally, that’s the bread Gnat wanted as well: DOT BREAD she called it as a tot, responding to the festive circles on the white plastic wrap.

Well: the bread inventors wised up, and developed fortified white bread that has all the whole grains we’re supposed to get, as well the fiber sufficient to scour the entire digestive tract clean. Me, I buy the “Double Fiber,” just in case. It’s like cracking open Ikea furniture and chipping out the particle board innards. If they made a bread called “Fist Of Brillo,” I’d buy that, I suppose.

Anyway. The other day at the store I noticed that Wonder had entered the Whole Grain genre, and I consulted the nutrition label. Chock full of everything. Practically bursting with vitamins. You could heal the sick and raise the dead just by laying on a slice. But it lacked something. It was insufficiently spongy. A good loaf of Wonder white should be delicately spongy; you should want to clasp it to your bosom and hug it and pet it and squeeze it with all your might, but you know you must be gentle. This loaf actually fought back a little. I compared it to the Kid’s Choice White With Whole Wheat And Fiber loaf; the Wonder was stiffer. There’s something amiss in a world where Wonder comes in second in the pliability contest.

Yes, yes, I know:

I always hated Mr. Whipple. I think we were meant to hold him in amused contempt, sexless tissue-diddler that he was, but the entire run of commercials was so inane you groaned when they came on. Gee, let’s see what happens this time. Whipple embarks on another anti-squeeze initiative. Upbraids the ladies for groping the dense spools of paper. Finds himself exposed as a sensualist in the end, groping the Charmin with the simple smile of a toddler palpating the mammary gland. Man needs a hobby. Man needs a date.

But – and I’m repeating myself here, because I know I mentioned this years ago – there was a commercial in the late 80s in which Mr. Whipple not only returned, but dropped the mask. It was set in his grocery store office, and he was a different man – confidant, breezy, urbane. As he walked around to his desk he cheerfully admitted that the whole don’t-squeeze-the-Charmin bit was an act, a routine he put on. He was kidding all along. Although, he had to admit,  the damn thing was squeezable. I only saw the commercial once, but it instantly entered the Lore of Paradigm-Confounding Television, like the show where Hamilton Burger beats Perry Mason.

He did put up a good front, though.

Where was I? Right: the kitchen table, eating lunch. So I made her a new sandwich and took her to school. Went home, met with a technician who installed some upgrades in the Jasperwood security grid – fascinating what they’re doing with pain-inflicting microwaves these days - then wrote a column. Wrote another, filed both. The exciting evening? Glad you asked: wrote another column, and now I have to write #4 after this. Afterwards it’s season 5 of “24.” Watched the first episode last night, which certainly answered any lingering questions about whether they could top previous season-openers: oy. Not even eight AM, and Jack Bauer has killed more people than I see in a day and probably earned a citation from the Jack Ruby Appreciation Society.

Back to work! See you tomorrow, and thanks for the visit.